A Word on Walking Away

walking-away

Do you remember the first time you had to walk away from someone – an intimate partner or a family member or a friend – because they did not serve you, care for you or respect you in ways that you needed them to?

Do you remember the first time you had to walk away from a way of being, from a reality that you wanted for yourself but wasn’t what God wanted for you?

Do you remember the first time you chose unhappiness over happiness because you thought that duty and obedience meant being miserable rather than experiencing a life of joy and freedom? The first time you bought the lie that suffering and sacrifice should be a norm for your life?

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy. – Robert Tew

When was the last time you walked away from that which no longer served you, grew you or made you happy? Continue reading

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A Word on Jamal Bryant and Shit

I have come to a place where I fully embrace my shit. I’m not talking about metaphorical shit  – I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m talking about actual shit.

I’ve had stomach issues my whole life. It wasn’t until early adulthood that I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and realized that my issues with shit were connected to my physical, mental and emotional health. Anyone who is in my intimate circle knows that I’ve struggled much of my life with managing this part of my health. There are plenty of stories of Roze running to find a restroom in public places or having to pull over on the side of the road. My brother affectionately refers to my issues as insane bowel syndrome, because in his words, “That shit’s insane!” You are probably learning more than you ever wanted to learn about me but all will soon be revealed… As someone who has had lifelong issues with shit, I’m not embarrassed to talk about it and have spent a lot of time thinking about it.

In prepping for this post, I reached out to a doctor friend of mine to get some facts. I learned that we have to shit or else we will die of sepsis. If our bodies do not expel waste, the shit will literally enter our bloodstream and infection will occur leading to multi organ failure and eventually, death. How about that shit?

I’ve also learned that there is a correlation between how bad our shit stinks and our diet. Because it’s waste, shit will always stink, but there are some of us whose shit (and farts) can literally clear a room. This is caused by bacteria that is present in our waste. The odor however is exacerbated by our diets. The worse our diets, the worse the smell. What we put into ourselves, the things we ingest, will literally show their true colors AND smell when we expel it.

Enough about actual shit. Let’s talk about metaphorical shit.

Continue reading

A Word on Violence – Part 1

 

“Any act of violence is a negation of life and humanity.” – Rev. Ken Wheeler

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I live in the city of Chicago. Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to news headlines knows that Chicago has a problem with violence. A Google search on gun violence in the city will return a link to Huffington Post that lists a variety of stories on violence in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune also has a page dedicated to Chicago crime statistics and interactive maps to help residents figure out what crimes happen in various communities.  Now that the weather is warmer and young people will be out of school for the summer, many of us lament the fact that there will be an increase in violence. It’s a fact – warmer weather = more death in Chicago.

Continue reading

I am My Sister’s Keeper

It’s become clear to me that a key aspect of my call is walk alongside women in particular as they discern what God is calling them to do, who God has created them to be and how to grow in love, compassion and grace of themselves.
My sister friends...

My sister friends…

I can’t help but think of the statement that those things we focus the most on, speak the most about, tend to be the things we struggle with the most. That is definitely true for me, dear shadow lovers. I talk about discernment and call because those are things that I have struggled greatly with over my life. I talk about compassion, self-love and grace because I am horrible at practicing these ways of being with myself and most days I don’t believe that I am worthy of receiving them. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress, paying attention to and working on my issues. But I spend so much time walking with others because at the end of the day, I don’t wish my feelings darkness, despair and loneliness on anyone. If I could help one less person, especially one less woman, not question their worth, not struggle with their intrinsic beauty and not doubt the love that our Creator God has given freely to each and every person, then my work, my life will not have been in vain.

Continue reading

Yoga Making Space

I am starting a new journey this weekend. Over the next 10 months, I am a student training to become a certified yoga teacher. This wasn’t a part of my plan. It’s funny how things happen like that. One moment I am sure of one path and the next, something and someone I couldn’t imagine or didn’t know grace my path and things begin to coalesce.

I am a dancer and have lamented my disconnection from dance as physical, emotional and spiritual therapy. Since my move and the various transitions of my life, I have not been in touch with my physical form. And I’ve suffered because of it. Sure things have been pretty good as of late, but I have felt like a piece of me has been missing.

I haven’t been grounded.

I haven’t been in touch with my body.

I haven’t spent time moving and stretching and breathing life into tired joints and stiff muscles.

I haven’t engaged in something that causes my mind to stop and allows me to hear – to hear my own inner thoughts and to hear that small, still voice of God that reaches out to me when I am engaging in that which I love.

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Enter Yoga. A colleague of mine is a yoga instructor and owns her own studio. I became close with her and the Spirit showed up. There’s more to this story that I will share later but the short version is that through this connection I am beginning this journey.

All of this is happening at the same time that I am experiencing some breakthroughs in therapy. I am beginning to peel back layers of myself and it has become clear that now is the time for me to confront some fears, some insecurities and some maladaptive ways of being. I can’t run from certain things anymore. It’s time that I make space…

Yoga is a way of life. The word yoga actually means to unite; to unite one’s mind, body and spirit on a journey of peace and acceptance. I realized tonight that I am on a journey of making space to knit pieces of myself back together as I seek healing and wholeness.

The part that’s been missing, the part that I’ve been longing for, is an integrated sense of self. I got this through dance. I was able to fully embody who I was created to be and the practice of dance taught me much about myself and ways of being in the world. After our first practice and class tonight, I was overwhelmed by the feelings that emerged simply because I made space.

Making space allowed me to feel some emotions that I’ve been avoiding.

Making space allowed me to hear from my body.

Making space allowed me to confront the negative voices that spew lies about who I am that my depressed mind has a tendency to believe.

There’s so much more to share and this is only the beginning.

Love,

Me

Grief Space Part 2

Grief Space – the place one finds themselves after a series of losses after some time has passed; the moment when one has to confront their emotions; a place of acceptance

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I’ve been trying to pinpoint what’s going on with me. I wrote about feeling untethered and the unfortunate state of being that I am inhabiting that currently includes daily tears and sadness. After a series of conversations, I finally realized that I am in what I am calling Grief Space.

I have not grieved the numerous losses that I have experienced since the summer of 2011. At the time that these losses were happening, I was in the midst of a depression so deep that it would take time off from work, an emergency intervention and a course of medication to get me to a place where I could finally put one foot in front of the other. So needless to say, I was not in a position to actively grieve.

Once things got turned right side up so to speak, I did what any strong black woman would do – I kept it moving. I actively worked on my healing. I threw myself into my work. I began making plans. I got a new job. I moved. I threw myself into my new work. I went through the motions of self-care. In the midst of all this doing however, I never stopped just to be. I never stopped to grieve.

It hit me this week that I am now finally in a place where the grief will no longer be denied. It wants to be recognized. I no longer have a choice. A friend of mine pointed out that I am now in the place where I need to pay attention to my grief. I need to look back over the past couple of years and just stop.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my seminary community.

I need to deal with the fact that I got married, separated and divorced.

I need to deal with the fact that I am no longer a step mother and am facing immense guilt over this reality.

I need to deal with the fact that my grandmother is dead.

I need to deal with the fact that my father is sick.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my beloved community in Atlanta that literally saved my life.

I need to deal with the fact that I am lonely.

I need to deal.

And it terrifies me. I often think that the worst place to be is healthy when it comes to mental illness because you know what sick looks like and you don’t ever want to be there again. My fear all of this time has been that if I let myself feel, if I let myself grieve, I may never emerge from the darkness.

During our conversation my friend pointed something out. She reminded me that I am not where I was. I am aware. I am proactive. I am supported. I am loved. And it is time for me to grieve. It is time for me to inhabit this grief space because until I do, as long as I keep stuffing it down and pretending like it’s not there or it didn’t’ happen, I will never fully embrace my shadow. It’s time for me to lean into the grief space, to go through it, to emerge on the other side. I’m asking for your prayers and your support. Maybe we can do it together.

Love,

Me

Butterfly Confessions meets Embracing My Shadow

Have you ever had a moment or series of moments that led you to recognize that something great was happening? That something or someone was making all the dots connect? That your journey – the pain, the suffering, the triumph, the joy, the confusion – may have prepared you for the life you are now living?
Things have been clicking recently. Even in difficult times, those times when I am reminded of my depression and anxiety; those times when I doubt the goodness within; those times when fear threatens to overtake me, I am hyper aware of the fact that something is stirring…
“Thank you God for divine relationships, connections that are firmer than what passing out business cards can do…”
I met A’driane through Twitter. Yes, I know how that sounds. You met someone through twitter? Yup, sure did. When I emerged from the darkness that was my last depressive episode, I began doing some internet searching. I was looking for resources, people, stories, videos – anything – that would make me feel a little less alone. Anything that would help me make sense of my newly embraced reality. Enter A’Driane.
You see, A’Driane is a woman who has been blogging about her experiences with PPD, Bipolar 2 disorder and anxiety  for a long time. Not only did her writing endear me to her, but the fact that she was a younger african american woman made me begin to imagine a friendship with her. That sounds a bit stalkerish but truth be told, her writing was so profoundly honest, authentic and comical at times that I felt like she was
a long-lost sister. So I did what anyone who is involved in social media would do. I started following her on Twitter and keeping up with her blog. And lo and behold, she followed back!
What’s amazing is that our connection wasn’t just a chance meeting. I soon found out that my best friend in real life, who is also a PPD blogger, knew A’Driane long before I’d meet her. Little did I know that something was stirring…
Our social media relationship continued. We soon exchanged phone numbers and began texting. We even set up a time for a Skype date. By this point, I knew that A’Driane was someone whom God placed in my life at a very particular time for a very particular reason. At first, I thought it was all about me – meeting a woman who was sort of like a mental health mentor. Her story and her willingness to forge a relationship helped me personally. But as time progressed, I realized that our coming together was not just about me or her alone. God was doing a new thing and had brought us to each other for such a time as this…
Over the next couple of days I’ll be releasing videos of a conversation that A’Driane and I are having about black women and mental health. The case of Miriam Carey spurred both of us into action with the goal of helping to destigmatize mental illness in the black community and encourage women to stand up and speak out. I hope you join us on this journey, for it isn’t until we confront the darkness that we can see the light.
Love,
Me & Addy
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